Oil Your Marketing Gears to Reduce Conversion Friction

Hands of mechanic, who lubricates car engine © Pavel Losevsky - Fotolia.com

On October 8, the “mechanics” at Marketing Experiments taught us a lesson that auto enthusiasts embrace – for optimal engine performance. we need to reduce the friction between moving parts. Just as oil is the blood of an engine, and has the major purpose of making parts move easier, marketing communications greases the passage of our prospect or customer through our message to take action.

The physical layout of an ad, email or other marketing treatment can either hinder a prospect’s response or make it easy for them to respond. This is the concept of friction. Marketing Experiments defines friction (in a marketing context) as psychological resistance to a given element of the sales/marketing process. In the Marketing Experiments “Conversion Heuristic” framework, friction plays a significant role in that it, along with anxiety, will negatively impact the probability of conversion. Reducing this resistance leads to a more positive response to your marketing efforts.

The two drivers of conversion friction are length and difficulty. Length-oriented friction creates resistance due to the perceived need for greater time to complete a task: it can be conceived of in terms of number of pages, length of copy, number of fields in a form, or – more broadly – the number of steps in a process. As length goes up conversion goes down. Replacing paragraphs with bullet points, removing extraneous elements such as unnecessary videos, and adding a call to action in close proximity to copy points can minimize length friction.

Difficulty-related friction stems from the respondent’s exertion needed to complete the task, such as reading an email or navigating a landing page. Elements that impact difficulty include eye path, options selections, button design, Flash video, etc. Designs that require the eyes to move in a suboptimal path  increase the difficulty facing the respondent. The example below shows the redesign created for the A/B test.

Marketing Experiments friction conversion

By removing elements, reducing copy points, making the eye-path more linear (top to bottom) and adding the call to action button at the bottom, the researchers were able to increase click-through rate by 173% (15% for control and 42% for the treatment).

The key takeaway is that you can make it easier for your audience to do what you want them to do  without sacrificing design quality.

Greg Timpany directs the research efforts for Global Knowledge in Cary, North Carolina, and runs Anova Market Research. You can follow him on Twitter @DataDudeGreg.

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